In the words of one of my favorite childhood book characters, I’d had a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
You know the type, right? Bad news comes like cars on a train, one after another. Or you just can’t get life right, no matter how hard you try. Or your family is all tied up in knots, you failed an important test, or you just feel generally crummy.
God knows our need for comfort, and He came to meet it.
In those situations, we all want to be comforted. But lately, I’ve been bringing the burdens that come with long hard days and laying them at the wrong
altar. It’s a big red box with Netflix emblazed across the middle. I’ve looked to entertainment to fill my cup, and it isn’t working. Can you relate?
Netflix, It’s Not You; It’s Me
Before we go too much further, let me be clear about what this post is not: This is not about bashing Netflix, and it’s not about reviewing what Netflix content is and isn’t okay.
In fact, this post isn’t really about Netflix at all. Perhaps Netflix isn’t your favorite entertainment of choice. Maybe you run to a certain video game to calm your nerves when you’re feeling anxious. Maybe you surf Facebook when you’re feeling sad. Maybe you turn to Twitter to numb your feelings.
All of these outlets are value neutral. That means that in and of themselves they aren’t necessarily “bad,” “evil,” or “sinful.” In fact, I’m as likely to catch a cooking show on Netflix as anything else. I don’t think Jesus minds one bit that I’m learning to whip up a soufflé.
The problem is not necessarily the content I’m choosing, but how I attempt to use entertainment to meet my deepest needs.
God of All Comfort
This sin-saturated world pokes and prods us, forcing every single one of us to look for relief. God knows our need for comfort, and He came to meet it.
Check out these verses about God’s ability to comfort us.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too (2 Cor. 1:3–5).
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff,they comfort me (Ps. 23:4).
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted (Isa. 49:13).
We serve the God of all comfort. He is able to comfort us in the darkest of valleys. Our entertainment choices are not a lasting substitute.
Your Colander Is Leaking
Imagine with me for a moment that you are whipping up a big ol’ pot of spaghetti. The noodles are perfectly cooked, and you dump them into a colander in the sink. The pasta water pours out and the dry noodles remain, ready to be slathered with your favorite sauce. (See, I have been watching a lot of cooking shows!)
He is able to comfort us in the darkest of valleys. Our entertainment choices are not a lasting substitute.
Colanders are great in the kitchen, but they aren’t great for our hearts. Yet God’s Word uses that image to describe what happens when we look to the wrong
source for comfort.
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).
We see two images at odds here. First is Jesus, the fountain of living waters. Jesus promised to give His followers this “living water” in John 4:10. He wasn’t offering us a drink. He was offering to satisfy our deepest needs, including our need for comfort. The second image is of a leaky cistern (think of that like your colander). You pour water in; it pours right back out. You pour comfort in; it pours right back out. You can’t get filled up that way. You can’t get your heart to stay full for long.
How to Plug the Holes
It takes training and time, but God’s Word asks us to stop running elsewhere for comfort and to run to Him instead. When we’re feeling stressed, angry, or
anxious, we have a choice. We can look to a screen to numb us but be forced to remember the hurt once the credits start to roll. Or we can run toward the God of All Comfort. Asking Him to meet our needs in anxious moments.
Think about your own entertainment choices with these questions in mind.
- Am I looking to Netflix (or Facebook, Twitter, or online gaming) to meet my need for comfort?
- When life is hard, where do I run to first?
- Do I want temporary comfort, or the lasting comfort only Jesus can provide?